The return of the Martyn brothers was overshadowed by new recruit Jarrod Bannister kicking nine goals against the Echuca Bombers on Saturday.
Co-captain Sam Martyn and brother James ran out at the Showgrounds on the weekend for the Saints, but Bannister’s kicking masterclass proved again why he is being tipped as Benalla’s secret weapon this season.
Bannister has now kicked 16 goals in two games and has increased his lead at the top of the goal-kicking ladder ahead of second-placed Saad Saad of Seymour, who has kicked nine.
Saints head coach Luke Morgan said it was the perfect start to the season for the side and they would be looking to carry that form into the next match.
‘‘We’ve started well, now we just have to continue on. (Bannister has) started brilliantly, he was just super on the weekend in that third quarter, you can’t ask for more than that in terms of a contribution, but we also can’t rely on him to score all the time, we have a lot of others that can kick as well,’’ Morgan said.
Co-captain Jordan Wolff stayed down after a heavy knock to his knee in the first quarter. Morgan said he would be receiving treatment before Saturday’s match to determine if he is fit to play.
‘‘He could be fine to play Saturday or he could be out for the season, that’s how knee injuries work sadly — we just don’t know at this stage,’’ Morgan said.
Saturday’s match sees the Saints away to 12th-placed Shepparton Swans, at Princess Park. The game starts at 2.15pm.
The Swans are without a win in the first two rounds and have conceded 278 points, while accruing just 94.
Benalla 6.0, 11.2, 14.2, 17.3 (105)
Echuca 2.2, 5.2, 10.6, 12.6 (78)
Best Benalla: Jarrod Bannister, Chris Welsh, Tom O’Brien, Pat Robinson, Tom Bennett, Zach Pallpratt.
Echuca: Simon Buckley, Kane Morris, Cameron Valentine, Alex McCann, Ruory Kirkby, Tyler Phillips.
Goals Benalla: Jarrod Bannister 9, James Martyn, Nicholas Warnock 2, Patrick Robinson, Marcus O’Brien, Sam Martyn, Christopher Welsh 1.
Echuca: Ruory Kirkby 4, Simon Buckley 3, Tim Allan 2, Nathan Bottomley, Tyler Phillips, Lucas Denton 1.
1: A good, clean kicking: The Saints can be proud of the scoreline in more than one aspect. Of the 20 scoring kicks, 17 were goals, with just three behinds. Their 85 per cent goal ratio was much better than the Bombers’ 66 per cent.
2: Kirkby hype shut down: Bombers forward Ruory Kirkby came to the Racecourse as a known danger to the Saints defence. But he was kept reasonably quiet by the Saints’ backline.
3: Third quarter concerns: The Bombers emerged from the sheds at half-time with a fire in their belly. They scored 34 points in the third quarter, while holding the Saints to three goals - which will be cause for concern to Morgan and his team.